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Ensuring a robust food safety system

Ms Oh Su Chin was among the first batch of scholars to receive a non-veterinary scholarship from the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) in 2010.

She has always felt that food science plays an important role in ensuring safe, nutritious and sufficient food supply worldwide.

So, she was delighted to receive the AVA Undergraduate Scholarship, which enabled her to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in Food Science, at the University of Melbourne AVA is the national authority that regulates food safety in Singapore.

In Australia, she interacted with the locals and other international students, and widened her perspective of the world. She says: “It was great experiencing the various cultures, especially learning what food signifies to people of different countries.”

Field trips and attachments to food companies there also exposed her to Australia’s food industry. These allowed her to gain new experiences and knowledge of how food safety standards are maintained.

Maintaining high standards

Ms Oh, who graduated at the end of 2014, is now an executive manager in the surveillance and compliance department of AVA’s Food Establishment Regulation Group. Her duties as a surveillance inspector include inspecting local food establishments and also sampling local food products.

She says: “Our work is crucial for establishing a robust food safety system to ensure high food safety standards are maintained in Singapore. It is also important for trade facilitation as it ensures food exported out of Singapore is safe for consumption.

Ms Oh, 25, enjoys her work as it allows her to interact actively with the public and AVA’s stakeholders during inspections and through regular engagement sessions. She believes that collaboration with consumers and the local food industry is critical to tackling emerging food safety threats and challenges.

Her work also involves investigating food poisoning incidents, as well as complaints and feedback related to locally manufactured food products. She says that one of the challenges is that every case is unique and inspectors will encounter unforeseen circumstances during investigations that often require a prompt response.

Fortunately, adapting to changing situations and learning on the job are skills that Ms Oh has honed, as her university education focused more on the learning and application process rather than just the content.

Sharing AVA’s vision

Ms Oh is proud that she and her colleagues are making a difference to food safety in Singapore. She is looking forward to achieving even more in the future.

She says: “Ensuring food safety in Singapore is an immense responsibility that has been placed on AVA, and I certainly believe that a career with AVA will be challenging and fruitful at the same time.”